Even while the first batch of cheetahs brought to India from Namibia and released in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park last September is doing well, one of them, a female Sasha, died here on March 27 due to kidney infection. Sasha who was four-and-a-half years old had been showing signs of weakness and fatigue during her daily monitoring and her medical examination revealed that she was not only dehydrated but had problems related to the kidney.
Her death has cast a shadow on the Centre's ambitious cheetah reintroduction project. The cheetah was one of two five-year-old female big cats released in Kuno by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, which also happened to be his birthday, last year. Recently, two more cheetahs, Elton and Freddie, were released into the wild in Madhya Pradesh. With that, four of the eight cheetahs brought from Namibia have been released into the wild in the park in the Sheopur district.
Madhya Pradesh forest department said that they found the female cheetah's health deteriorating on March 22. On March 22, Sasha was found in the park, where she had been released from the quarantine boma. She was not making any movement. She was examined and brought back into the quarantine boma. Sasha's kidney-related disease was first noted by authorities in January. She was revealed to be suffering from dehydration and lethargy. Sasha was also found lazing in her big enclosure on January 23 which prompted authorities to shift her into quarantine for treatment. Cheetah Sasha's blood tests revealed high levels of creatinine. High levels of creatinine in blood or urine are often a signal that kidneys are not filtering blood properly. It further leads to chronic kidney disease. Cheetah Sasha is said to have picked up a kidney infection while in captivity in Namibia. Her treatment history showed that her last blood sample collected on August 15, 2022, also had high levels of creatinine (400). However, authorities hoped that she would recover though the chances of survival were said to be slim.
Cheetahs are known to be delicate creatures by nature as they have a thin and small frames, mostly built for speed. Hence, are susceptible to even the slightest of illnesses or changes to their habitat. Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Namibia in a tweet said that kidney infections were commonly seen among captive cheetahs as compared to their wild counterparts. However, CCF said it was not completely known why captive cheetahs are more prone to kidney diseases. Cheetah Sasha was first found in 2017 on a Namibian farm, malnourished. She was taken to the CCF Centre where she was often always with another cheetah Savannah. Cheetah Savannah is also at Kuno National Park now.
Critics say that Kuno National Park is not fit to accommodate the cheetahs which often need large homes and that there might be potential human-animal conflict. Conservationists from India and abroad last year published a letter in Nature Ecology & Evolution criticising the project. The fenced-in cheetahs from Namibia are envisioned to soon move freely into India where average human population densities are 150 times higher. We anticipate that adopting such a speculative and unscientific approach will lead to human-cheetah conflicts...- The Letter read. On the other hand, those involved in the project have said that while the project is difficult and they also expect a high mortality rate among cheetahs before their population stabilises, "it's better not to let an animal go extinct". A dozen more cheetahs - seven males and five females - were brought to the KNP from South Africa on February 18 this year. The KNP is now home to 20 cheetahs. South Africa has also signed an agreement with India to introduce dozens of African cheetahs to the Asian country over the next decade. The world's first intercontinental translocation project aims at reintroducing the big cats in the country.
Central government notifies rules requiring pain-managed castration
Following years of appeals and efforts by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to improve animal husbandry procedures, the central government has notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Animal Husbandry Practices and Procedures) Rules, 2023, which mandates that procedures like castration of bulls, horses, and other animals be done with the involvement of a registered veterinary practitioner and using general and local anaesthetics instead of the current prevalent painful methods, such as forcing a bull to the ground and using a Burdizzo castrator without any painkillers to crush the blood vessels, nerves, and vas deferens connected to the testes in order to cut off the blood supply and cause the testicles to atrophy. The Rules also encourage the breeding of polled (naturally hornless) cattle over dehorning and the use of face halters and other humane methods over nose roping, prohibit cold and hot branding on live tissues, and prescribe a clear procedure for euthanasia for ill animals to end their suffering. The Rules also put in place pain reduction methods for dehorning and nose roping when they occur. Though Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, defines the acts which amount to treating animals cruelly, sub-section 3 offers an exception and consequently deems certain animal husbandry procedures, including the dehorning of cattle and castration, branding, and nose roping of any animal, not cruel, when done in a “prescribed manner”. Further, sub-section 3(c) also allows “the extermination or destruction of any animal under the authority of any law for the time being in force” as an exception. The decision of the government to define the “prescribed manner” for painful animal husbandry procedures and euthanasia for cattle and other animals under the PCA Act, 1960, follows advisories issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, appeals made by PETA India, and a public interest litigation filed by the group in the Delhi High Court. “We are thankful to the Modi government for this progress that will bring countless bulls and other animals relief from the pain of common animal husbandry procedures. The said Rules aim to crack down on quackery, which is one of the major reasons for animals suffering in veterinary practice,” says PETA India Veterinary Policy Advisor Dr Nithin Krishnegowda. “Current methods are barbaric, painful, and downright cruel and do not involve the use of sedatives, painkillers, or anaesthetics to prevent and manage fear, pain, and distress. These Rules will change that, thereby improving the relationship between farmers and their animals.” The Rules prescribe the method to be followed for euthanasia – “a good death” – for situations in which it is cruel to keep an animal alive, as mandated by the PCA Act, 1960, and they call for animals to be made unconscious without having to endure pain or suffering prior to the cessation of vital signs. Current crude methods of killing such animals include injecting chemicals that painfully stop the functioning of the heart and lungs while animals are still conscious, suffocating them to death in plastic bags, and burying or burning them alive. Non-adherence to the notified Rules shall be punishable under sections 11, 12, and 13 of the PCA Act, 1960.
Man takes a public shower to show meat’s devastating role in drought
To mark World Water Day (22 March), a PETA India member took a public shower at Lohia Park Road in Lucknow to highlight that the best thing people could do to save water and stop contributing to the climate catastrophe was to go vegan. He showered behind a curtain that read, “1 Chicken Meal = 30 Showers. Go Vegan to End World Drought!” “Modern meat and dairy products require up to 50 times more water than the production of plant foods like pulses, vegetables, and grains,” said PETA India Campaigns Manager Radhika Suryavanshi. “As India suffers from drought, PETA India is asking people worldwide to preserve precious resources by rejecting chicken and curd in favour of tasty vegan foods that can save water, animals’ lives, the planet, and even their own health.” According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes 322 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of vegetables. In contrast, 1 kilogram of milk requires 1020 litres, 1 kilogram of eggs 3265 litres, 1 kilogram of poultry meat 4325 litres, 1 kilogram of pork 5988 litres, and 1 kilogram of mutton 8763 litres, while 1 kilogram of beef requires a staggering 15,415 litres of water to produce. Factory farming, introduced by the West, is now used all over India, causing huge problems. Rainforests are being cut down to grow animal fodder, and according to some estimates, modern animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems combined. And while 189 million people go hungry in India and fewer than half the country’s citizens have access to safe drinking water, the production of animal-derived foods uses a third of the world’s freshwater resources and a third of the world’s cropland. This cropland could be used to grow food for hungry humans instead of animals deliberately bred and raised to be used and killed. -TTN